TALLAHASSE, Fla. — In a video that went viral on social media, a barefoot toddler gets out of a vehicle and walks toward police officers with her hands up. It looks as though she’s standing in the street without anyone trying to help her.
But more video, this time from a Florida police officer’s body camera, tells a very different story.
Tallahassee officers responding to a reported theft by an armed man on Thursday pulled over a suspect’s truck, police said. Among those inside were two small children, a 2-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy.
As officers arrest a suspect, who can be heard on the video saying he is the children’s father, the girl gets out of the truck and walks toward police, with her hands up.
In the video of the traffic stop recorded by a passerby, someone can be heard saying “She’s trying to get out. Oh, my God! She’s trying to get out, but she can’t because she’s little,” and “Ooh, she’s holding her hands up.”
Police are seen aiming their guns at the vehicle as the little girl stops near an officer.
‘A different perspective’
After the video went viral, police released the body camera footage. “The officers stopped the vehicle and were following their training as they had the suspected armed adults step out of the truck,” said Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo in a video posted on Facebook.
“When, unexpectedly, a 2-year-old girl climbed out of the truck and imitated her parents by walking towards the officers with her hands raised.”
In the body camera footage, an officer can be heard comforting the child saying “you’re OK, come over here sweetie, you’re OK,” and “sweetie, put your hands down, you’re fine.”
Inside the truck, the 1-year-old was found still strapped into his car seat. “A weapon is found in the backseat, although the gun looks real, it’s actually a pellet gun,” DeLeo said.
Two men were arrested and later charged with theft, according to police. The officers allowed their mother to take care of the children.
“This incident demonstrates the value of body worn cameras providing a different perspective of the same incident,” DeLeo said.